Fire pits make great gathering points for families and friends, and with the right equipment you can cook your meals over the embers too. Fire pits also have added safety features such as metal mesh sides and spark screen covers that protect your surroundings from catching on fire by accident.
Being outdoor enthusiasts ourselves we have researched, reviewed and identified some of the best fire pits for cooking on the market. So if you’re shopping for a new fire pit, this buying guide is a great place to start.
If you want the best fire pit for cooking, the Bali Outdoors 32-Inch Wood Burning Fire Pit is an overall great option. If you’re interested in more choices, check out the list below for our top picks:
These 6 fire pits are great for cooking
When shopping for a fire pit with the specific purpose of cooking food in it, you want to look for a few additional features.
Some fire pits come with equipment such as grill grates, a fire poker and a mesh spark screen cover, and these models work very well as an outdoor cooking area.
As we looked into the vast range of options in order to identify the best fire pits for cooking, we considered these factors:
- Build quality
- Safety features*
*Safety features include spark guards and mesh screen covers. If you’re planning on using your fire pit for cooking on your patio, we strongly recommend getting an ember mat to protect your deck from embers and sparks.
Best overall: Bali Outdoors Fire Pit & Height Adjustable Grill
Bali Outdoors 32-Inch Wood Burning Fire Pit
- Very sturdy design
- Grill grate swivels 360 degrees
- Adjustable height on grill grate
- Useful log rack and fire poker included
- Sturdy base makes it more stable than other fire pits.
- Works great for cooking with the swiveling grill grate.
- Grill grate
- Superb ventilation due to the metal mesh sides.
- Triangular log rack keeps the logs in place for best possible ventilation.
- No metal screen cover included to secure against flying sparks and embers.
- No carry handles on the sides.
The Bali Outdoors 32-Inch Wood Burning Fire Pit is great for cooking, and offers more versatility than most other fire pits. The grill grate swivels 360 degrees because it’s attached in one side only, making it easy to remove the food from the heat in time before overcooking it.
Another great feature is the height adjustable option, which enables you to cook your meats at different temperatures. Set the grill grate at the lowest level if you want perfect sear marks on your steaks, or raise it if you’re grilling hotdogs and other more delicate meats.
There’s a fire poker and a log rack included too, so you’ll have no trouble adjusting the logs and holding them in place to maintain proper ventilation.
Best affordable fire pit: Fire Sense Folding Fire Pit With Carry Bag
Fire Sense Portable Folding Fire Pit
- Folding legs enable space saving storage
- Carry bag included
- Cooks small meals very well
- Compact and lightweight.
- Handy carry bag included.
- Great fire pit for small outdoor barbecues.
- Available in two sizes.
- Cooking grate included.
- Thin materials – not as heavy duty as other more expensive fire pits.
- No height adjustment options on grill grate.
- Folding legs are somewhat unstable.
If you’re shopping for a cheap fire pit for cooking, the Fire Sense Portable Folding Fire Pit is a great choice. It weighs only 7 pounds and measures 22 inches in diameter, making it a great choice for multiple purposes such as picnics, beach barbecues, backyard cooking, and much more.
The fire pit comes with all the accessories you need to cook a proper meal for a small family, and there’s both a fire poker and a mesh spark cover included.
The legs are easily folded up underneath the metal bowl, and the fire pit is easily stored with the nylon carry bag included.
Best design: Landmann Big Sky Stars & Moons Fire Pit
Landmann Big Sky Stars & Moons (28335)
- Great build quality
- Stylish stars and moons design
- Spark guard cover keeps you and your surroundings safe
- Heavy duty build quality.
- Beautiful design.
- Full circle carry handle allows you to easily move the fire pit when needed.
- Durable grill grate and spark guard cover included.
- Sturdy legs keeps the fire pit stable.
- 22.5-inch area for cooking.
- Grill grate isn’t height adjustable.
- The carry handle is a bit cumbersome to assemble properly.
- Paint might start to flake off on the inside due to the heat.
- Fire poker is a bit heavy.
The Landmann Big Sky Stars & Moons fire pit is great for cooking any type of meal for family and friends. Although the grill grate is not height adjustable, the distance between the base and the grate is neither too long or too short, allowing you to cook almost anything you can imagine anyway.
With the carry handle you can easily move the fire pit around when needed, and the metal mesh spark guard ensures that no sparks escape the pit.
There were a few concerns from buyers about corrosion, but based on our experience it’s unavoidable for an outdoor fire pit considering that it has to withstand high heat, humidity, rain, snow, and all types of grease and leftovers.
Best for backyard parties: FIXKIT Fire Pit Table
FIXKIT Multi-Functional Fire Pit
- 31.9 x 31.9-inch square design is a perfect size for any backyard cooking
- Doubles as an ice bucket that keeps your bottles cold
- Grill grate and metal spark guard included
- Looks really good in any backyard.
- Multi-functional design: Fire pit, ice bucket and grill.
- Suitable for cooking of any meat and vegetables.
- Made from black varnish iron.
- Waterproof cover included.
- Bowl is only 4.5″ deep, making it difficult to keep a proper distance between the grill grate and the embers.
- While it isn’t as expensive as other fire pits, it does also look a bit cheap.
- Rusts easily, even if covered.
The FIXKIT Multi-Functional Fire Pit is great for cooking, but since the bowl is just 4.5 inches deep you’re probably best off cooking lighter and smaller pieces of meat, skewers, and hotdogs.
It has a stylish design that fits well in any backyard, and there’s even a waterproof cover included to protect it from bad weather.
You’ll also get a metal mesh spark guard and a grill grate, and the fire pit can be used for multiple purposes. No matter what purpose it’s used for, the FIXKIT fire pit acts as a nice and cozy gathering point for family and friends.
Best gas fire pit: Volcano Grills 3-Fuel Portable Fire Pit
Volcano Grills Portable Camping Fire Pit
- Versatile design: Cooks any dish you can imagine
- Foldable and portable
- Usable with three types of fuel: Gas, charcoal, or wood
- Only 5 inches tall when folded.
- Fits neatly in the carrying case included.
- Great fire pit for cooking anything, anywhere.
- Connects to a propane gas cylinder for quick cooking.
- Durable stainless steel cooking grate included.
- Not as big as other fire pits.
- Design is a bit flimsy if it isn’t placed on a hard surface.
The Volcano Grills Portable Camping Fire Pit is a great choice for outdoor cooking, whether you’re on the beach, on a picnic or in your own backyard.
With the stainless steel cooking grate you can make anything you can imagine, and it can also fit a Dutch oven or a wok for more advanced cooking.
You can use this fire pit with a propane tank cylinder, or you can fire it up with charcoal or regular wood. It’s up to you, and the gas burner easily detaches if you decide to go with wood or charcoal instead.
When not in use, the Volcano Grills fire pit collapses down to just 5 inches, and with the carry case included you can easily stow it in your car trunk or store it in your garage/basement.
How to protect your patio, deck, lawn, or campsite from embers and sparks
There’s always a risk that embers will pop or sparks will fly when using a fire pit for cooking. Due to the wood being somewhat unpredictable, you just never know when or where the sparks will go.
With an ember mat you can protect the ground from getting burned by popping embers and flying sparks, and it’s actually a great safety add-on for any campsite too.
We recommend getting one of these if you’re cooking your meals in a fire pit in a dry area, and always if you’re staying at a natural campsite.
A general look on fire pits for cooking
When summer approaches, cooking over a fire pit becomes a norm in most homes. If you’ve ever seen a gourmet cooking over a fire, you know it is an experience you don’t want to miss. Fire pits can create a bonfire space for family and friends on a lazy afternoon. It is the perfect way to make your roast and water it down with some chilled drinks in the company of those you love. That’s why it is necessary to get the best fire pit for cooking for your home. But where do you start your search? Here is a quick guide:
The most popular outdoor design element
Fire pits are the most sought after outdoor design elements for homeowners. This fact is as per a 2018 American Society of Landscapes Architects (ASLA) survey.
How so? Well, this small appliance surpassed (66%) the demand for grills (50%), and outdoor heaters (40.5%).
It is the top go-to outdoor entertainment solution that brings back the feeling of fall in winter.
Do you really need a fire pit for cooking in your home garden?
A fire pit has many benefits to the modern family as follows:
- It cooks diverse meals with precision
- It burns all types of fuel in a smokeless manner
- It creates an affordable cozy space for outdoors get together
- Ideal for use in all seasons
- It’s a great way to relax and unwind after a busy day
What can you cook on a fire pit?
You know the drill. Any food that cooks on your grill will cook even better on a fire pit. Thus, use your backyard fire pit to prepare any of the following dishes:
- Tasty appetizers including Shishito peppers, Mexican street corn, and smoked sausages. With enough sticks, you can prepare as many hotdogs as you like.
- Prepare quick meals at the beach or picnic site. These include grilled meatball kebabs and nacho platters.
- Late night desserts. Make your campfire bananas, chocolate rolo s’mores, or grill some shortcake skewers.
How to find the best fire pit for cooking?
Fire pits are available in square low table-like variations with a fire bowl. Others feature rectangular table-like styles. These can be portable or fixed. Permanent fire pits suit a spacious backyard.
Fire pits use materials that can withstand high temperatures. These are steel, cast iron, copper, and aluminum. Still, others use alloys like carbon steel, brass, resin wicker, and tempered glass top. Each element varies in hardness, melting point, density, and tensile strength.
It is quite hard to scratch a steel fire pit bowl. But, when you drag a fire poker along a copper fire bowl, it comes out with several scratches. Second, steel has the highest melting point. In contrast, aluminum copper bowls are most likely to get damaged from excessive heat. Third, aluminum fire pits are most portable, while copper ones are the most stable.
Finally, aluminum and steel frames are quite flexible. But, cast iron fire pits can break when dropped or hit by accident.
A standard fire pit’s diameter measures between 20 inches and 45 inches wide. Those of 20 inches to 25 inches are suitable for patios and small decks. They retail with a convenient fire bowl.
In contrast, more open fire pits are ideal when you have a large family or group of friends gathering. They measure between 40 inches and 45 inches in diameter. Hence, pick the size that will complement your cooking style and food servings.
Type of fuel
Fire pits use either wood or gas. Wood-burning fire pits are cost-efficient. They give you the authentic feeling of cooking over a campfire. You’ll get to smell and watch the fire crackling as you cook under the moonlight. Some wood-burning fire pits can be close to smoke-free, but that mostly depends on the wood you’re using and the quality/design of the fire pit itself.
In contrast, gas fire pits use propane or natural gas to fuel the flames. They include fake logs and stones to mimic a real campfire and retain some of the heat from the flames. These fire pits need you to carry a fuel tank wherever you go with the fire pit. It is a more expensive option, and not convenient when going camping for days or weeks in remote areas.
Safety and assembly
The best fire pit for cooking is easy to assemble. Also, it has safety features that ensure there is no breakout of fires. Such features include the following:
- Ease of assembly
- Fire screens that protect you from stray sparks
- Folding legs for ease of portability
- CSA approved
- A safety ring that also doubles up as a carry handle
Fire pit FAQs
Q. How does a fire pit work?
A. The secret behind the best fire pit for cooking is its airflow system. Indeed, a fire pit needs free-flowing air that supplies oxygen to its flames. The best fire pit should have a robust mechanism of keeping its holes or air vent free off ash or debris. Also, such fire pits should be free of any plastic or PVC tunnels that may melt and leak dangerous fumes to the food.
Q. Can I build my own fire pit for cooking?
A. Yes. You can use available materials to build a requisite fire pit for cooking. Yet, you need to contact a local fire marshal and confirm the local regulations. Some areas ban the construction of fire pits for decks or near some delicate structures. Where the need is, plan to get a permit.
Q. Can I use a gas fire pit for cooking?
A. Gas fire pits have an aesthetic design to complement your front or backyard’s décor. Not all of them are ideal for outdoor cooking. Some gas fire pits generate smoke and soot. Besides, any drippings or oil from the food can clog the burner and damage it.